In loving memory

Yesterday, something tragic happened at my university. If you haven’t heard yet, then it’s likely that you soon will—there have been news vans prowling around campus for the pretty much the past 24 hours. If you’d like to get all the details, you can go straight to the front page of the LA Timesor virtually any other Los Angeles news station, but the gist of it is that two USC students, a man and a woman, were shot and killed early Wednesday morning (April 11).

USC held a candlelight vigil in their memory last night at 7:30 pm, so my roommates and I went, along with hundreds of other people—students, professors, counselors, deans—who came to pay their respects and mourn the loss of Ming Qu and Ying Wu.

As I stood there with my friends at my side, I couldn’t help but wonder why these things happen. There has to be a reason, doesn’t there? If there aren’t reasons for both the good and the bad things in life, what purpose is there in living? I don’t believe in coincidence. But it kills me to share in this burden, and try to remember that it is all happening according to a masterplan written by an all-knowing Creator.

I stood there alongside every other person at that vigil, and I asked why. And I answered myself, I don’t know. Why. I don’t know.

There is nothing I despise more than not knowing.

I went back home with this line in my head: “You should have been there.” I don’t know if it was directed at God, or at the people who could not attend, or at Ming and Ying who should have seen the love displayed in their honor and memory. Maybe a little of each. In any case, I sat down at my desk and could think of nothing else, so this happened:

“Candlelight Vigil”
(In loving memory of Ying Wu and Ming Qu, who were taken from us too soon)

You should have been here
To see the hands raised for you,
The shattered faces alight in a fever of
Fire cradled to aching chests;
To smell the spices on the air
Rising into the black,
Silver-kissed streams of
Ageless agony—
You should have been here
To hear the wordless weep for you
And the suffering hearts of
People who knew you, who
Feel you
In the soft splash of reluctant candle wax
And the broken souls breathing love to the sky,
To the dark,
To the cold,
To the flickering gold…
You should have been here
To see the spirits you touched
Who cling to each other with strength that will fail,
Who reach out for something
That can dull our despair,
Who stagger and
Fall to such black and blue knees
As we scream and we wail
To the heavens and hells,
To the ends of the world,

You should have been here.

We cannot let go, but you have gone
On a breeze, on a chance,
On a gunpowder dance
But we cannot let go, no, we cannot
Let you go.
Not in an hour, not in a day…
And yet
You rise in the incense, the blush of the burn,
You rest in the shadows of cool April evenings,
Shrouded in showers that
Blanket the pavement with shimmering reds,
Glistening blues that burst into pieces
With each drop of rain,
And it’s here that you murmur
Someday, we will be okay
Just not tonight,
Because tonight, you should be here.
You should be here.

Samantha Chaffin


3 thoughts on “In loving memory

  1. deshipley says:

    That’s really hard, Sam.
    We wish people wouldn’t do these things to each other, and we wish we had the words for times like these.
    That you found words is a blessing, and I can only hope that more good is slated to come from this not-at-all-good.
    Those are all the words I’ve got for now. *claps virtual hand on your shoulder, and holds*

  2. thejaneite says:

    Wow, Sam, that was really touching. I’m sorry for the horrible loss that was for s many people, and I think I know a little of what it feels like from my own experiences. Thanks for sharing your poem, love. I’m rubbish at that sort of thing and jsut stand around blubbering so I really appreciate your beautiful words.

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